Google Play icon

Groundbreaking surgery to restore eye sensation

Share
Posted January 19, 2018

Michigan Medicine surgeons are helping patients who have lost sensation in their cornea (link is external)regain feeling in their eye through a small-incision, nerve transplant procedure—corneal neurotization surgery.

Patients who have lost sensation in the eye due to infection, diabetes, trauma, malignancies or surgery can develop a condition called neurotrophic keratopathy.

Nerve transplant procedure offers hope for those at risk of eye damage from everyday hazards like dust and wind. Image credit: Jacek Halicki via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

This reduces their ability to feel eye pain or irritation so that they are unable to protect their eyes from elements encountered on a daily basis— such as dust, microscopic debris, and the wind. Such everyday hazards can cause corneal scratches, infections and scars that can eventually lead to blindness.

Corneal neurotization surgery is a novel, minimally-invasive approach that either re-directs the patient’s own sensory nerves in the forehead or uses a nerve graft from elsewhere in the patient’s body, implanting the new nerve endings around the cornea.

The new surgical procedure is available at Michigan Medicine through collaboration by teams in ophthalmology and visual Sciences(link is external)plastic surgeryand otolaryngology.

Following the procedure, as the new nerve endings grow into the corneas, “The sensation in the eye has been shown to return over several months,” says Shannon Joseph, M.D., an oculoplastic(link is external) surgeon at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center(link is external).

Neurotrophic keratopathy can be very difficult to manage. Doctors may try lubricating eye drops, specialized contact lenses or patches, suturing the eyelids shut or closing the tear drains.

The corneal neurotization procedure now provides a powerful opportunity to address the underlying cause of the condition.

Joseph first performed corneal neurotization at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She is now an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center.

A coordinated effort by Joseph, Christopher Hood, M.D., and Shahzad Mian, M.D., at the Kellogg Eye Center; David Lawrence Brown, M.D., and Steve Kasten, M.D., in the U-M Department of Surgery; and Jennifer Kim, M.D., in the U-M Department of Otolaryngology, led to applying nerve regeneration principles to the eye condition.

Surgeons take nerves that have less important roles in other parts of the body or are redundant and transfer them to restore sensory function where needed—in this case, a damaged cornea. “About one millimeter of the nerve is restored per day,” Brown explains, depending on a patient’s age and health.

After corneal sensation is restored, corneal transplantation is also more likely to be successful, offering visually impaired patients an opportunity to regain their sight.

Source: University of Michigan Health System

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
84,767 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. Real Artificial Gravity for SpaceX Starship (September 17, 2019)
  2. Top NASA Manager Says the 2024 Moon Landing by Astronauts might not Happen (September 19, 2019)
  3. How social media altered the good parenting ideal (September 4, 2019)
  4. What's the difference between offensive and defensive hand grenades? (September 26, 2019)
  5. Just How Feasible is a Warp Drive? (September 25, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email